Ottawa Police Arrest Chemist After Hotel Evacuation

A 42-year-old man was arrested at an Ottawa hotel Wednesday following an overnight investigation linked to the discovery of what police said were dangerous chemicals 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) away in the Halifax area of Nova Scotia.

The type and extent of the chemicals were not immediately disclosed. But authorities considered them serious enough to evacuate two Halifax neighborhoods and the Ottawa hotel, and the suspect was arrested after negotiations with police, said Ottawa Const. Chuck Benoit.

A senior government official said the suspect is a chemist with no known criminal record but was in possession of highly toxic chemicals. The man’s wife notified police because of her concern about his irregular behavior, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Police declined to release the man’s name. However, the business manager of former U.S. Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller said police called her to let her know that the suspect was her ex-husband, Christopher B. Phillips. The couple divorced in 2006 after seven years of marriage.

“Upon hearing the recent news surrounding Christopher Phillips, my prayers immediately go to the safety of those around him. I’m thankful that the brave men and women of the Ottawa police department and other law enforcement agencies were able to apprehend him and diffuse the situation without incident,” Miller said in a statement released by her manager, Nick Furris.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police were alerted to a suspicious package by a concerned citizen in the Halifax neighborhood of Cole Harbour, eventually leading to the evacuation of homes Tuesday morning. The package was determined to contain hazardous materials but not explosives, the RCMP said.

Five homes in Halifax’s Grand Desert community were also evacuated as police found hazardous and volatile materials there as well. RCMP Cpl. Greg Church said the evacuation of the Grand Desert area remained in effect Wednesday.

Late Tuesday night, Ottawa police went to the Chimo hotel after learning of the threat and finding his car, police said. They didn’t say what the threat entailed. Tactical and hazardous material teams moved in and evacuated the eight-story property, sending guests to other hotels.

Benoit said police made contact with the suspect early Wednesday morning.

“The negotiation went on and the individual exited the unit where he was staying on the sixth floor, and an arrest was made without incident,” Benoit said, adding that his car was also searched. The suspect has not yet been charged with a crime.

Miller and Phillips were married in a lavish ceremony that featured many of her teammates from the 1996 U.S. squad that won the team gold medal in the Atlanta Games. Miller also won two silver and three bronze medals in 1992 in Barcelona and an individual gold medal in the balance beam in Atlanta.

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Ottawa Police Arrest Chemist After Hotel Evacuation
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